James Madison Pendleton, a son of John Pendleton, was born in Spottsylvania county, Va., November 20, 1811. His parents moved to Christian county, Kentucky, in 1812. Here he was raised upon a farm, attending the neighborhood schools, at such times as he could be spared from labor. By this means, he acquired some knowledge of reading, writing, arithmetic, geography and grammar. His parents were pious Baptists, and he was the subject of early religious impressions. At the age of 15 years, he commenced seeking religion with much earnestness. For about two years, he groped in darkness; but he was finally enabled by divine grace to trust in the Savior. He united with Bethel church, in Christian county, and, on the 14th of April, 1829, was baptized by John S. Wilson. In February, 1830, he was licensed to preach. For some time he labored under many doubts as to his call to the ministry; and some of the old ministers feared he would never make a preacher. Early in the year, 1833, he went to Hopkinsville and entered school, for the purpose of studying Greek and Latin. Meanwhile, he
accepted an invitation to preach, one Saturday and two Sundays in the month, to each of Hopkinsville and Bethel churches. Having moved his membership to the former, he was there ordained to the ministry, November 2, 1833, by Reuben Ross, Wm. Tandy, Wm. C. Warfield, and Robert Rutherford. He remained at Hopkinsville about four years, preaching and devoting himself to study.
At the beginning of the year 1837, he succeeded William Warder, then recently diseased, in the pastoral charge of the church at Bowling Green. Here he remained 20 years, with the exception of a few months, spent in Russellville, about 1850. On the 13th of March, 1838, he was married to Catherine S. daughter of Richard Garnett of Glasgow. In 1840, he entered with Bowling Green church into the constitution of Liberty Association, and, two years later, succeeded Jacob Lock as Moderator of that body. This position he filled during eight successive years. The church at Bowling Green prospered under his ministry; and while residing there, he acquired the reputation of a learned and able minister, and a very pure and logical writer.
In 1857, he was elected professor of theology in Union University, located at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and was, at the same time, called to the pastoral care of the church at that place. He continued to fill these positions till the War broke up the school, in 1861. The next year, he accepted the pastoral care of the church at Hamilton, Ohio. Here he did not succeed to his own satisfaction, and, at the end of a three year’s pastorate, resigned his charge. In 1865, he accepted a call to the church at Upland, Penn. To this congregation, he ministered, about 18 years, with much satisfaction, both to himself and the church. In the fall of 1883, he resigned this charge, and went to Nashville, Tennessee, to spend the winter.
Dr. Pendleton is a man of extraordinary industry. From 1838, to the present time, he has probably written more for the periodical press than any other man who has regularly filled the pastoral office; and, yet, he has never published an article that did not evince calm thought and mature deliberation. He was one of the editors of the Southern Baptist Review during the six years of its publication, at Nashville, Tenn. He was also co-editor of the Tennessee Baptist, a number
of years, during which time it attained the largest circulation of any Baptist weekly in the world. In addition to his contributions to the periodicals of the times, he has published a number of books and pamphlets which have attracted popular attention. His first book was published, in 1853, under the title of "Three Reasons Why I am a Baptist." This was followed by a volume of sermons, published in 1858. In 1868, he published a "Church Manual." The next year his work on "The Atonement of Christ," issued from the press. His largest work, titled "A Compendium of Theology," was written, in 1877.
[From J. H. Spencer, A History of Kentucky Baptists, Volume II, 1885; rpt. 1984, pp. 523-525. — jrd
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